Christmas Cactus is a jungle cactus that prefers humidity and moisture, unlike its standard cactus cousins that require a warm, arid climate. A winter-bloomer, Christmas Cactus displays flowers in shades of red, lavender, rose, purple, white, peach, cream, and orange, depending on the cultivar. This prolific grower eventually needs to be repotted. Repotting a Christmas Cactus is not complicated, but the key is knowing when and how to repot.
When to Repot
Most plants are best to repot when they display new growth in spring, but the repotting of Christmas Cactus should be done after blooming ends, and the flowers have wilted in late winter or early spring. Never attempt to repot the plant while it is actively blooming.
Do not rush to repot Christmas Cactus because this hardy succulent is happiest when its roots are slightly crowded. Frequent repotting can damage the plant.
Repotting Christmas Cactus every 3 to 4 years is usually adequate, but you may prefer to wait until the plant begins to look tired or you notice a few roots growing through the drainage hole. Often, a plant can bloom happily in the same pot for years.
How to Repot
Here are some Christmas Cactus potting tips that will help you find success:
- Take your time because repotting a Christmas Cactus can be tricky. A lightweight, well-drained potting mixture is critical, so look for a commercial mix for cacti and succulents. You can also use a mix of two-thirds regular potting soil and one-third sand.
- Repot Christmas Cactus into a pot only slightly larger than the current pot. Be sure the pot has a drainage hole at the bottom. Although Christmas Cactus likes moisture, it will soon rot if the roots are deprived of air.
- Remove the plant from its pot, along with the surrounding soil ball, and gently loosen the roots. If the potting mix is compacted, gently wash it away from the roots with a bit of water.
- Replant the Christmas Cactus in the new pot, so the top of the root ball is about an inch (2.5 cm) below the pot's rim. Fill in around the roots with fresh potting mix and pat the soil lightly to remove air pockets. Water it moderately.
- Put the plant in a shady location for two or three days, then resume its regular care routine.
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